Other celebrities around the world have worn their cupping marks with pride, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow were famously reported walking the red carpet with red circular marks across their bare shoulders.
But Cupping isn’t a new trendy treatment just for the elite. It has been around for centuries, and like many things, has exploded in popularity due to recent celebrity endorsement.
Cupping dates back some 3000 years and originated in ancient Egypt. From there, it’s use spread to Greece, Europe, the Middle East, and Eastern Asia. The technique has been adopted by both Eastern and Western cultures. The Eastern philosophy, like many manual techniques such as acupuncture, is based on the flow of ‘energy’ or ‘Qi’. They would use Cupping as a way to unblock built up energy flow within the body, and release it into the Lymphatic system to be dealt with. Traditionally glass cups would be applied to the skin after having a flame inserted into the cup to suck out the air, causing a vacuum that would then be applied to the skin causing negative pressure and sucking the skin into the cup. The cup would then be left in place from five minutes up to fifteen minutes.
Western culture has adopted this form of treatment more as a manual treatment to help release tight connective tissue such as fascia, muscles and even scar tissue.
Here at Restore we have adopted the technique used called Myofascial Cupping. Plastic cups with small valves on the ends are applied to the skin and a special trigger is used to suck the air out of the cup, causing a vacuum inside the cup. It is extremely safe as there is no longer the use of an open flame.
Think of this kind of treatment as a reverse massage. During a massage treatment, the muscles are compressed and manipulated in a downwards application, with the tissue being pushed and kneaded. During Cupping, the soft tissue is being lifted and separated, with tension being created that can pull deeply into the connective tissue. Quite often cups can be applied to tight knots, or trigger points, that are too sensitive to be manually massaged. A cup can be left gently on this area for a few minutes, then when removed, the area can be massaged with a significant decrease in pain and discomfort.
At times clients can be left with a red mark after a treatment. This is not a bruise as such. Think of it as similar to a hickey, or a love bite. The surface blood is pulled into the cup, and at times can pool there, leaving what we like to call a ‘Cupping mark’. Some people, usually those with fairer skin, do mark more easily than others. Our application at Restore is more on the conservative side. We tend to use less pressure in the cup in order to not leave a mark, and we do not leave the cups in the one spot for longer than a few minutes, reducing the risk of too much marking.
There are certain contraindications that mean Cupping cannot be used on everyone, or during certain times of inflammation or sickness. That is why it is always best to get treatment from a qualified professional that has been correctly trained in Cupping. All three of Restorer’s therapists have been trained in Cupping.
Cupping has many applications. Clients have used it to aid in muscle lengthening, to reduce trigger points and tight spots. Selena Hagan, Restore owner and Remedial Massage Therapist is in the very early stages of developing a Random Control Trial involving the treatment of Burns scars and Myofascial Cupping. Selena has had fantastic results working with Cupping and scar tissue and increasing the range of motion of clients with restrictive scar tissue. This is very exciting as there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support the use of Cupping.
Cupping isn’t for everyone, but it is another effective form of manual therapy that can be included in your next treatment.